Herzog & de Meuron

Herzog-de-Meuron.jpgJacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Photo courtesy Herzog & de Meuron

By Jakob Harry Hybel

Much in the same way as Rem Koolhaas has become synonomous with modern Dutch architecture, Herzog & de Meuron represents something uniquely, distinctly Swiss. The works of the Basel-based practice express conceptual precision, formal clarity and immaculate detailing and craftsmanship. What truly distinguishes them, however, is their commitment to challenging the Modernist ornament-aversion.

The two founding partners Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have had almost entirely parallel careers. Born in Basel in 1950, they both went on to study architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH). They received their degree in 1975 - along with Aldo Rossi - and established their joint practice in Basel in 1978.

Herzog & de Meuron - which captured the public's eye in 2000 with their first large-scale project, the Tate Modern in London - has designed a wide range of projects from the small scale of private homes to the large scale of urban design. While many of their projects are public facilities, they have also completed several notable private projects such as apartment buildings, offices and factories.

Their formal language have evolved somewhat from the rectangular simplicity of their early works to the more complex and dynamic geometries of the VitraHaus or the Beijing National Stadium, also referred to as The Bird's Nest - the latter being one of three realized projects on which Herzog & de Meuron has collaborated with prolific Chinese artist Ai Weiwei).

However, a highly refined juxtaposition and articulation of different materialities is a common thread that runs through all their projects, as is the often remarkable choice of building skins, such as woven copper strips  or photographically printed polycarbonate panels.

The individual contributions of each of the two founding partners are inseparable, which was acknowledged by the Pritzker Prize Committee, who made them both laureates in 2001 - something that had previously only happened once (Oscar Niemeyer and Gordon Bunshaft in 1988).

For many years, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were reluctant to decentralize their firm, as they felt they needed hands-on involvement in all their projects. Today, however, with Herzog & de Meuron engaged in  projects across Europe, North and South America and Asia, the partnership has grown from two to five partners (the others being Christine Binswanger, Ascan Mergenthaler and Stefan Marbach). And while its head office remains in Basel, the practice now have branch offices in Hamburg, London, Madrid and New York. 

Visit Herzog & de Meuron's website.

August 29, 2016 /

The New Tate Modern
Herzog & de Meuron
London, United Kingdom

Earlier this summer, the world’s most popular gallery for modern art completed an ambitious expansion project, adding 60% more space for visitors. But the resulting building, Tate Modern’s new Switch House, is about more than square meters.

May 23, 2016 /

Blavatnik School of Government
Herzog & de Meuron
Oxford, United Kingdom

The historic English cities of Oxford and Cambridge create an intimidating backdrop for the insertion of contemporary architecture. Herzog and de Meuron’s new Blavatnik School of Government rises to the challenge with confident geometry and elegant detailing.

December 10, 2013 /

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Herzog & de Meuron
Miami, Florida, USA

The new Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) reflects the natural and urban landscape of Miami and responds to the city’s rapid growth as a cultural destination.

Parrish Art Museum by Herzog & de Meuron in Water Mill, New York, USA. 
Photo: Matthu Placek
December 10, 2012 /

Parrish Art Museum
Herzog & de Meuron
Water Mill, New York, USA

Parrish Art Museum references the vernacular architecture of the East End, to emphasize the relationship of art to nature, and to be flexible and welcoming.

Museum der Kulturen by Herzog & de Meuron in Basel, Switzerland. Photo Iwan Baan
June 11, 2012 /

Museum der Kulturen
Herzog & de Meuron
Basel, Switzerland

The Museum der Kulturen Basel dates back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Replacing the Augustinian monastery on the Münsterhügel the classicist building by architect Melchior Berri opened in 1849.

Stade Bordeaux Atlantique stadium outside
Image © Herzog & de Meron
September 19, 2011 /

Stade Bordeaux Atlantique
Herzog & de Meuron
Bordeaux, France

The new stadium, with more than 43,000 seats, will offer quality and flexibility to organize major events that will contribute to the cultural influence of Bordeaux, the city and the region. The dimensions of the field will also allow the organization of national and international rugby matches.

1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.
Photo © Iwan Baan
September 20, 2010 /

1111 Lincoln Road
Herzog & de Meuron
Miami Beach, Florida, USA

The nature of Lincoln Road was the one source of inspiration for the architecture of the car park, its being connected to the massive, closed Suntrust office building the other.

Vitra Haus by Herzog & de Meuron in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Street view.
Photo © Iwan Baan
March 20, 2010 /

Vitra Haus
Herzog & de Meuron
Weil am Rhein, Germany

A series of spatial surprises, a "secret world," with a suggestive, almost labyrinthine character.

Plaza de España by Herzog & de Meuron in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Public space water basin.
Photo © Iwan Baan
April 20, 2009 /

Plaza de Espana
Herzog & de Meuron
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Much of today's Plaza de España and the cargo docks of the Muelle de Enlace is reclaimed land anchored in the steep drop of the Atlantic Coast. Anything that is constructed there is essentially an additional crust, a new layer superimposed on what is for the most part landfill.

56 Leonard Street by Herzog & de Meuron in New York, USA. An irregular flurry of cantilevered terraces.
Photo © Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, 2008
November 17, 2008 /

56 Leonard Street
Herzog & de Meuron
New York, New York, USA

The 57-story residential building is located at the intersection of Church Street and Leonard Street in the Tribeca Historic District of downtown Manhattan.

Caixa Forum by Herzog & de Meuron in Madrid, Spain. street view, entrance.
Photo: @ Christian Richters
March 31, 2008 /

Caixa Forum
Herzog & de Meuron
Madrid, Spain

The surprising sculptural aspect of the Caixa Forum's silhouette reflects the roofscape of the surrounding buildings.

Forum by Herzog & de Meuron in Barcelona, Spain. The triangular blue concrete building.
Photo: Thomas Mayer
February 26, 2007 /

Herzog & de Meuron
Barcelona, Spain

The triangular blue concrete building, conceived as a sponge saturated with water, blends with the sky and the Mediterranean Sea.

de Young Museum by Herzog & de Meuron in San Francisco, California, USA. Outside facade.
Photo © Thomas Mayer
November 07, 2005 /

de Young Museum
Herzog & de Meuron
San Francisco, California, USA

Constructed of warm, natural materials, including copper, stone, wood and glass, the new de Young blends into and complement its surroundings.

Laban Art Dance Centre by Herzog & de Meuron in Deptford, London, United Kingdom. Interior main theatre wallpainting.

Photo: arcspace
January 17, 2005 /

Laban Dance Centre
Herzog & de Meuron
Deptford, London, United Kingdom

Laban is located in south-east London, on the edge of Deptford Creek, surrounded by decaying blocks of council flats, scrapyards, and derelict industrial warehouses.

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